Title:
Concentric tank flapper system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The invention provides an improvement to existing toilet tank flappers, designed to conserve water. The system includes a nested compound actuator handle attached by independent arms to a compound rubber flapper system. The minor handle component actuates a smaller concentric flapper that, though initial set-up, allows for minimal water flow with the intent of only utilizing enough water to facilitate and complete bowl water exchange. The major handle component actuates the entire flapper mechanism allowing, though initial set-up, a measured amount of tank volume to facilitate the removal of waste from the bowl. The system, by design, allows the user to initiate either operation without in a single motion and without the need to provide any additional input to complete the flush cycle.



Inventors:
Horvath, Julius (Spruce Grove, CA)
Application Number:
11/136949
Publication Date:
10/06/2005
Filing Date:
05/24/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E03D1/14; E03D1/30; E03D1/35; E03D5/02; (IPC1-7): E03D1/35
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, TUAN N
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CHRISTENSEN O'CONNOR JOHNSON KINDNESS PLLC (Seattle, WA, US)
Claims:
1. A toilet tank flush mechanism, comprising: a concentric set of flappers including a main flapper for high volume flushes and a small flapper concentrically disposed in the main flapper for low volume flushes, the main flapper having a pivotal mounting end and a chain attachment end; a pivot arm adapted to carry the small flapper, the pivot arm having a pivotal mounting end and a chain attachment end, the pivotal mounting end of the pivot arm being pivotally mounted to the pivotal mounting end of the main flapper; two lever handles connected to independent extension arms, including a high volume extension arm adapted to actuate the main flapper and a low volume extension arm adapted to actuate the smaller flapper; and chains connecting the high volume extension handle with the chain attachment end of the main flapper and connecting the low volume extension handle with the chain attachment end of the pivot arm that carries the small flapper.

2. The toilet tank flush mechanism as defined in claim 1, wherein floats are provided that are positionable at selected positions along the chains, such that the volume of water used can be adjusted by adjusting the position of the floats on the chains.

3. The toilet tank flush mechanism as defined in claim 1, wherein the lever handles are nested.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a concentric tank flapper system for toilet tank.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The issue of water usage in toilets has been long addressed by reducing the volume of water available in the tank. New toilets are available to consumers with low-volume 1.6 gallons (6.5 litres) per flush tanks. Retrofits to older, higher volume tanks generally involve displacing water with the addition of non-buoyant object or water metering devices. Both options have been criticized for there lack of effectiveness.

The Concentric Toilet Flapper System (CTFS) provides an innovative means of solving the problem of low-volume flushing by providing staged flushing that suits the flow requirements of solid or liquid waste evacuation. The CTFS allows the user to determine if a partial or complete flush is required to evacuate the bowl then provide just enough flow to eliminate the waste. The end result is more efficient flushing and a substantial conservation of water.

The CTFS provides the best option for retrofit in both modern and late model toilets. In late model toilets the CTFS takes advantage of the inherent static head in the tanks to generate high water flow to reduce the duration of the flush in both flush modes. In more modern toilets the CTFS further reduces the use of water by providing an optional ultra-low-volume flush when a simple change in bowl volume is all that is required. Similar devices, which purport to provide the same dual flush flexibility, require the user to hold the flush handle through the entire flush cycle to facilitate the evacuation of solids whereas the CTFS provided a compound handle to activate the desired flush mode and requires no additional intervention.

Although a number of patents have been issued for similar devices that address the same functionality, all fail to either provide a method of selective flushing that does not require intuitive input by the operator, such as in U.S. Pat. No. 3,964,109 (Street 1976); U.S. Pat. No. 4,160,294 (Crumby 1979). Others fail to provide fully independent flappers thereby introducing a hinge point susceptible to wear and breakage, such as in U.S. Pat. No. 4,937,894 (Hill 1990) and U.S. Pat. No. 5,673,441 (Wang 1997). Others provide only a single handle actuator attached to a flapper system that relies on air bleed to determine flush volume, thereby preventing adjustability, such as in U.S. Pat. No. 5,181,282 (Comparetti 1993).

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

What is required is an innovative means of solving the problem of low-volume flushing by providing staged flushing that suits the flow requirements of solid or liquid waste evacuation.

According to the present invention there is provided a concentric tank flapper system includes a nested compound actuator handle attached by independent arms to a compound rubber flapper system. The minor handle component actuates a smaller concentric flapper that, though initial set-up, allows for minimal water flow with the intent of only utilizing enough water to facilitate and complete bowl water exchange. The major handle component actuates the entire flapper mechanism allowing, though initial set-up, a measured amount of tank volume to facilitate the removal of waste from the bowl. The system, by design, allows the user to initiate either operation without in a single motion and without the need to provide any additional input to complete the flush cycle

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other features of the invention will become more apparent from the following description in which reference is made to the appended drawings, the drawings are for the purpose of illustration only and are not intended to in any way limit the scope of the invention to the particular embodiment or embodiments shown, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a exploded view of the concentric tank flapper system

FIG. 2 is a side elevation view of the concentric tank flapper system illustrated in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a side elevation view of the concentric tank flapper system illustrated in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a exploded view of a second embodiment of a concentric tank flapper system

FIG. 5 is a side elevation view of the concentric tank flapper system illustrated in FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the concentric tank flapper system illustrated in FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is a side elevation view of the concentric tank flapper system illustrated in FIG. 4;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the concentric tank flapper system illustrated in FIG. 7;

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the concentric tank flapper system illustrated in FIG. 4;

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The preferred embodiment, a concentric tank flapper system generally identified by reference numeral 10, will now be described with reference to FIGS. 1 through 3. A second embodiment generally identified by reference numeral 100 will be described with reference to FIGS. 4 through 9.

Referring to FIG. 1, there is provided a concentric tank flapper system generally identified by reference numeral 10. The invention pertains generally to plumbing fixtures. Toilet tank flapper system 10 is designed for use in at lever style toilet tank, in order to address the desire to reduce water consumption. The invention provides the user with an option to only refresh the water in the toilet bowl or to use a greater volume to remove solid waste without being limited to using the entire tank volume.

Concentric tank flapper system includes a minor lever 1 is connected to a low volume extension arm 4, a major lever 2 is connected to a high volume extension arm 3. Each of low volume extension arm 4 and high volume extension arm 3 are provided with a conventional bead chain 8 having two floats 9. Chain 8 from low volume extension arm 4 extends to pivot arm 5 which operates a low volume flapper 6. With high volume extension arm 3, chain 8 connects directly to a high volume flapper 7. Referring to FIGS. 2 and 3, high volume flapper 7 is concentrically mounted with low volume flapper 6.

A low-volume flush would facilitate the exchange of only the toilet bowl. To accomplish this the minor (nested) lever 1 is depressed fully. The minor lever 1 is connected directly to the low-volume extension arm 4 by means of minor shaft assembly through the center of the major shaft assembly. The length and clearance of the shaft assembly penetration provides the support and alignment mechanism for the low-volume extension arm 4. The low-volume extension arm 4, which extends to a point over the centre of the low volume flapper 6 and high volume flapper 7 but slightly posterior to the centerline of the tank, moves upwards. The end of the low-volume extension arm 4 is connected to the low-volume flapper 6 by means of a bead chain 8 attached to the centre of the low-volume flapper 6 and secured by bent wire clips. The upper bent wire clip is designed to allow adjustment of the effective chain length.

Referring to FIGS. 2 and 3, the low-volume flapper 6 is attached to the high-volume flapper 7 approximately midway to the water supply pipe by means of the pivot arm 5. The upward motion of the low volume extension arm 4 raises the low volume flapper 6, thereby allowing the water in the tank to evacuate through the hole in the centre of the high-volume flapper 7. The low-volume hole size is approximately on half the diameter of the main (high-volume) drain hole. The location is engineered to provide fluid motion with no stress points and a precise landing of the concentric flappers. The independent attachment point also allows low-volume flapper 6 to be replaced independent of the high-volume flapper 7.

The low-volume flapper 6 is held in place by the static head of the water in the toilet tank. Once the low-volume flapper 6 has been separated from the high-volume flapper 7 it is provided with buoyancy by means of small styrofoam floats 9 attached to the bead chain 8 secured by flat plastic clips. The dwell time can be adjusted by moving the float up or down the chain.

Once the low-volume flush cycle has been initiated (i.e. the minor flush level has been fully depressed) there is no additional user input required. A high volume flush would facilitate the exchange of sufficient water to fully evacuate the toilet bowl and providing sufficient excess motive water as require to completely clear the trap and pipes. The amount of water and duration is dependent on the tank volume and bowl design and can be adjusted at the time of initial set-up. To accomplish this the major lever 2 is depressed fully. The major lever 2 is connected directly to the high-volume extension arm 3 and is secured to the tank by means of a treaded backing nut. The low-volume shaft assembly is keyed to move in unison and activates seamlessly with a high-volume flush. The high-volume extension arm 3, which extends to a point over the centre of the flapper assembly but slightly anterior to the centerline of the tank, moves upwards. The end of the high-volume extension arm 3 is connected to the high-volume flapper 7 by means of a bead chain 8 attached to the outer edge of the high-volume flapper 7 and secured by bent wire clips. The upper bent wire clip is also designed to allow adjustment of the effective chain length. The high-volume flapper 7 is a single piece rubber molding attached to the water supply pipe in the traditional OEM styles. The upward motion of the high volume extension arm 3 raises the high volume flapper 7 as any conventional flapper. The dwell time can be adjusted by moving the float 9 up or down the chain 8.

SECOND EMBODIMENT

A second embodiment, a concentric tank flapper system generally identified by reference numeral 100, will now be described with reference to FIGS. 4 through 9. Referring to FIG. 4, a toilet tank flapper system 100 system includes a minor lever 110 and a major lever 112. Minor lever 110 is connected to a low volume extension arm 114 and major lever 112 is connected to a high volume extension arm 113. High volume flapper 117 is concentrically mounted with low volume flapper 116. Referring to FIG. 5, low volume extension arm 114 is connected via a bead chain 118 directly to low volume flapper 116. High volume extension arm 113 is connected via a bead chain 119 directly to a high volume flapper 117. Unlike the preferred embodiment 10, second embodiment 100 does not require any floats. A further difference between embodiment 10 and second embodiment 100, is that with second embodiment 100, low volume extension arm 114 is connected directly to low volume flapper 116 rather than to a pivot arm as is the case with first embodiment 10.

The use and operation of second embodiment 100 will now be described with reference to FIGS. 4 through 9. Second embodiment 100 operates in a similar manner to embodiment 10.

Referring to FIG. 5 and 6, a low-volume flush would facilitate the exchange of only the toilet bowl. To accomplish this, minor lever 110 is depressed fully. As with first embodiment 10, with second embodiment 100, the minor lever 110 is connected directly to the low-volume extension arm 114 by means of minor shaft assembly through the center of the major shaft assembly to form a shaft assembly 120 as illustrated in FIG. 6. The length and clearance of the shaft assembly 120 penetration provides the support and alignment mechanism for low-volume extension arm 114. Low-volume extension arm 114, which extends to a point over the centre of the low volume flapper 116 and high volume flapper 117 but slightly posterior to the centerline of a tank, moves upwards. The upward motion of the low volume extension arm 114 raises the low volume flapper 116, thereby allowing the water in the tank to evacuate through a hole 122 in the centre of high-volume flapper 117 and out water supply pipe 124. The location is engineered to provide fluid motion with no stress points and a precise landing of the concentric flappers 116 and 117. The low-volume flapper 116 is held in place by the static head of the water in the toilet tank. Once the low-volume flush cycle has been initiated (i.e. the minor flush level has been fully depressed) there is no additional user input required.

Referring to FIGS. 7 and 8, a high volume flush would facilitate the exchange of sufficient water to fully evacuate the toilet bowl and providing sufficient excess motive water as require to completely clear the trap and pipes. The amount of water and duration is dependent on the tank volume and bowl design and can be adjusted at the time of initial set-up. To accomplish this, major lever 112 is depressed fully. Major lever 112 is connected directly to high-volume extension arm 113 and is secured to the tank by means of a treaded backing nut. Low-volume shaft 120 assembly is keyed to move in unison and activates seamlessly with a high-volume flush. High-volume extension arm 113, which extends to a point over the centre of the flapper 116 and flapper 117 but slightly anterior to the centerline of the tank, moves upwards as illustrated in FIGS. 7 and 8. The end of the high-volume extension arm 113 is connected to the high-volume flapper 117 by means of bead chain 119 which is attached to the outer edge of the high-volume flapper 117 High-volume flapper 117 is a single piece rubber molding attached to the water supply pipe in the traditional OEM styles. The upward motion of the high volume extension arm 113 raises the high volume flapper 117 as any conventional flapper.

Referring to FIG. 9, when not in use and neither lever is being depressed, low-volume flapper 116 rests concentrically within high-volume flapper 117 so as to water supply pipe 124.

In this patent document, the word “comprising” is used in its non-limiting sense to mean that items following the word are included, but items not specifically mentioned are not excluded. A reference to an element by the indefinite article “a” does not exclude the possibility that more than one of the element is present, unless the context clearly requires that there be one and only one of the elements.

It will be apparent to one skilled in the art that modifications may be made to the illustrated embodiment without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as hereinafter defined in the Claims.